I so meant to write this month’s ago but here we go…
The gospel industry is an interesting world. And I cringe when I say ‘industry’ because I believe inspirational music to be so much more than a title such as ‘industry.’ But any who, that’s just me. I say that gospel music is an interesting world because there is a challenge that singers have — on one end you must deal with the criticism of the church and judgements from other Christians but then you must somehow balance that criticism with the ultimate goal — to minister to each soul and deliver a message of the gospel that includes love, hope and encouragement and to honor God.
Sometimes in order to do that you must ”meet people where they are” so that you can reach those in need of this message. That can mean hitting the streets with the good news of the gospel, like the clubs, casinos, etc. Or it means finding a way to enter their world with something they can relate to – what better way to do that then through music?
Many of those that are ‘un-churched’ may not be in church every Sunday or never even been to a church yet they listen to the radio, watch TV and know the sounds of popular songs from artists like Rhianna, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Jay Z , etc. They are listening to songs with “catchy lyrics”, glamorized beats and fashionable artists that they find culturally relevant and entertaining. These are the same artists that major record companies get behind spending billions on marketing these music messages to the masses. And then you have gospel artists who say ‘let me switch it up’ and take one of these popular songs promoting sin and flip the script to promote God’s word.
Take for example gospel songstress and YouTuber LeThelma Armstrong who recently remixed a Beyonce song ‘Drunk in Love.” A remix that involves her totally re-writing the lyrics of the song and amazingly turning the song’s meaning completely around for the Glory of God. You can see the video below – it’s amazing!
Ok, yet despite LeThelma’s creative cleverness, Christians go crazy about it and ridicule and judge her version so heavily. The funny thing in the same breath these same critics listen and love Beyonce’s version without fault. LeThemla’s promoting the Love of Jesus…what’s wrong with that?
Some of the critics say:
“Making me cringe! Pls Jesus help so-called Christians, especially. American so-called Christians that think changing a song meant for Satan, into a ‘gospel’ song! Yuk!”
“She’s singing it gospel but shaking with the beat like she’s Beyonce wannabe. I wonder if she’s still singing it REAL-igiously while thinking of Beyonce on the original music video. ”
“Such a beautiful voice that it is a shame that it is being used for foolishness. How are you going to take something of the world and try to usher it up to God when he clearly states that we are supposed to be separated from the world.”
And some of the supporters say:
“Every gift is Gods..He can pass it unto who ever…Quit being like the Sadducees and the Pharisees…. and realize who needs to be ministered to….She knows Jesus… but does this world?”
“I look at it as a great way to touch the youth. They know Bey version so they will take to the song. Many of you hypocrites obviously heard Bey version and have no problem with the sinful filled version of the song….there is never anything wrong with changing a negative into a positive no matter the beat as long as you steppin in the right direction.”
“People need to be quiet she can praise anyway she want to the bible says make a joyful noise unto The Lord!!!! As long as there is spirit and truth in her praise I see nothing wrong with her praising God.”
My question is shouldn’t grace abound when we look to the heart and intentions of the person and the ultimate goal – which is turning a song that promotes lust into a praise anthem that promotes love.
In the bible doesn’t Paul also say “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (Romans 14:12-13).
I personally give props to LeThelma and other gospel artists that have mastered the art of a REMIX and finding their own special way to praise God. On LeThelma’s YouTube page she makes a comment that I think sums up my thoughts on this topic. She says “Nothing about a building is holy…..just because it carries the label of a “church” does not equate to holiness…A holy place is where God dwells and sweetheart, that is anywhere God decides to show up….”
I have to agree with her on this. If God dwells in her heart, I say sing on. As a Christian, I see so many other battles that are more deserving of my energy. Complaining about how one praises God or chooses to ministers to others in a way that might actually bring them to the Lord is not something worth my energy. So, this is why, sometimes I have a problem with the ‘gospel’ industry. We need to stop putting chains on God and criticizing those who are on the same team as us! I say ‘Go God, Go’ … continue to work through your children and may your spirit, your word and your intentions dwell in the hearts of your believers forever and forever.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?